Keratosis Pilaris is a wide-spread skin issue and disease, also known as “Chicken Skin”.
With this skin issue, your skin gets colored brown or red spots appear around the hair follicles. This disease is totally harmless (but annoying) and is inherited. Keratosis Pilaris means an excess of keratin in Latin, therefore the name of this disease. This skin condition is not contagious and it’s harmless for people around. It is said to affect around 40% of the adult population and up to 80% of adolescents. It is more common in women than men.
Keratosis Pilaris is not curable, but with effective treatment method, it will become less noticeable with time. Treatment of Keratosis Pilaris needs to be long term as there is no cure, if you stop treatment it will become more noticeable again. The skin condition does tend to improve over summer months and get worse again during the winter.
Table of Contents
1. Keratosis Pilaris Features
The most common places where the red bumps appear are:
- Back and outer sides of the upper arms.
- Tops of legs.
- Less commonly, lesions appear on the face, which may be mistaken for acne.
There are several different types of Chicken Skin:
- KP Rubra – which presents as red, inflamed bumps.KP Alba – rough, bumpy skin with no irritation
- KP Alba – rough, bumpy skin with no irritation.KP Rubra Faceii – reddish rash on the cheeks
- KP Rubra Faceii – reddish rash on the cheeks.
Keratosis Pilaris – Symptoms:
- Keratosis Pilaris looks like small goose bumps.
- The skin feels dry, rough and may itch sometimes.
- Sometimes a little redness develops around the bumps.
2. Available Treatment For Keratosis Pilaris
Even though there is no cure for keratosis pilaris, since KP is a chronic and genetic follicular disease, many treatments are available. Results from treatments vary and can often be disappointing. With persistence, most people will see satisfactory improvement and better skin conditions. It is recommended that treatment is not discontinued because the buildup of keratin (the hard protein in the skin, nails, and hair) will continue to reform around the hair follicles.
There are several types of keratosis pilaris treatments including:
Treatment #1: Exfoliate
Carefully KP-affected skin in a hot shower. Overaggressive, abrasive scrubbing can make keratosis pilaris much worse, so choose a soft scrub that also utilizes chemical exfoliants (such as DERMAdoctor KP Duty Body Scrub). The combination of physical sloughing and acid-based exfoliation will smooth roughness and unplug the affected follicles.
Use hot water when treating keratosis pilaris. Hot water will inflame and irritate KP, and cold water will prevent pores from opening and unclogging.
Treatment #2: Moisturize
Moisturize with a gentle exfoliating lotion containing pore-unclogging ingredients. Look for products with one or more of the following:
- Glycolic acid (such as Glytone Keratosis Pilaris Kit).
- Lactic acid (such as Lac-Hydrin).
- Alpha-hydroxy acid (such as Alpha Hydrox AHA Enhanced Lotion).
- Urea or uric acid (such as Eucerine 10%).
These acids will help to clear the keratin plugs.
Treatment #3: Reduce Irritation
A sensitive or aggressively treated skin may encounter irritation from the unclogging acids. Should irritation occur, stop using the exfoliating scrubs and acid-based lotions and creams for at least 2-3 days.
Instead, opt for skin-soothing lotions containing colloidal oatmeal, green tea or aloe vera. Try Kiehl’s Deluxe Lotion with Aloe Vera and Oatmeal, or Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion.
Treatment #4: Sea-buckthorn Treatments
Sea-buckthorn (hippophage rhamnosides) is a thorny shrub, the fruit, leaves, and bark of which have been used throughout Asia for centuries as, among other things, an anti-inflammatory.
Anecdotal results of sea-buckthorn use show promise for people with keratosis pilaris. In a poll taken by an online community for people with KP, 22% of respondents report that sea-buckthorn treatment worked to clear their keratosis pilaris.
Sea-buckthorn can be taken internally (most commonly, as a pill containing sea-buckthorn oil) or applied topically as soap, lotion or oil.
Treatment #5: Sun Exposure
Numerous people with keratosis pilaris find that a moderate amount of daily sun exposure helps to reduce the severity of KP bumps. In the same Keratosis Pilaris poll, 25.5% of respondents reported sun exposure as effective in reducing KP.
The most secure keratosis pilaris sun treatment consists of 15 minutes of exposure to the early morning sun, without sunscreen. Sunscreen is always recommended with extensive midday sun exposure.
3. When to Consult a Dermatologist to Treat Keratosis Pilaris
If at-home treatment does not reduce or eliminate keratosis pilaris, consider visiting your dermatologist. Skin doctors can prescribe keratosis pilaris products containing high concentrations of effective acids. Keratosis pilaris laser treatment is another option.
Before investing in more aggressive KP management, begin by treating keratosis pilaris at home. Start with a 3-step approach: gently exfoliate with warm water; moisturize with a lotion containing pore-unclogging acids, and soothe with a mild lotion if irritation develops.